The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Things are looking up!- Sourdoughs

inlovewbread's picture

Things are looking up!- Sourdoughs

My last few bakes haven't been so successful. Formulae that usually turned out well were coming out of the oven looking sad. I can't figure out if I was over or under-proofing. I kept trying at it to get the timing right on Glezer's Colombia. Incidentally I posted about it on my blog because it's the family's favorite bread, but lately the scoring just doesn't open up. The flavor is great, but I can't get it to look the way I want it to anymore! Ugh! Then I made a few other breads that just turned out so-so. How is it that my bread could be getting worse?

But alas, a little baking redemption:

Today's bake was dmsnyder's San Joaquin Sourdough (finally tried it) and my favorite Pain au Levain with whole wheat. 

The San Joaquin Sourdough- or "Idaho Sourdough" as I guess it should be called:

I took a risk and did not stick to the 21 hour cold bulk ferment as specified in dmsnyder's formula. I pulled out the dough for final proofing at about 14 hours. It looks like it woke up fine! The grigne looks a little jagged, I confidently scored these batards but I may not have gone deep enough. It turned out a pretty interesting look though.

The crumb:

Outstanding flavor, a little more sour than I have been getting- which is good!

The Pain au Levains:

It's good to see a grigne...

the crumb:

I really don't like doing math- so here is the *formula* for the Pain au Levain with whole wheat, and a little rye:

75% white flour (I used like 75% ap and 25% bread flour)

15% white whole wheat flour (WM Prairie Gold, freshly ground)

10% rye flour (whole rye)

40% of the flour was prefermented 

2% salt (I used french grey salt, and I think it really makes a difference)

roughly 70% hydration



LindyD's picture

Those are lovely breads.

Sometimes you need to walk away from the tried and true - especially when things start going downhill and you can't pinpoint why.

inlovewbread's picture

Yeah, I wish I had baked these last week. It seems all the breads I make to take to potucks or dinners or something turn out to be my ugliest ones. 

arlo's picture

All the breads look lovely! Are you baking on a stone? If so what steaming method are you using, since your loaves have such nice spring, I'd love to try it out myself : )

inlovewbread's picture

Hey arlo! Thanks!

Yes, I bake on a square stone (got it from King Arthur catalog). As for steaming, I 've tried a few different methods. I got the best steaming results from using a preheated cast iron skillet below the stone, pouring in about 1 cup warm water as I load the loaves. I've turned into a cast iron lover now, and can't stand to damage a good skillet (or an abused one) long story short, I've settled on an old stainless steel bread pan loaded with lava and river rocks that I found in my yard. I preheat this and the stone to 500F and pour in about 3/4 cup water when loaves are loaded. I remove the pan after 15 min or so (depending on the bread).

The other thing I think helps with oven spring is to slightly underproof your loaves. *But* this has proven to be a bit of a challenge for me- getting the timing right. 

dmsnyder's picture

They all look great! The crust and crumb on the SJ SD (or Idaho SD) is quite characteristic of the results I get. I'm happy you are enjoying it. (I'd enjoy a slice myself right now!)

Although I specify a 21 hour cold fermentation after Anis Bouabsa's method, one of the great things about this bread is that it gives you some wiggle room to fit the bread to your own time needs. I don't think cutting out the additional 7 hours did a bit of harm. You can see from your crumb that the dough is well fermented - filled will holes of different sizes randomly distributed. (A sign of good shaping, too.)

The scoring results with the jagged edges are common. I think they result from the relatively slack dough. To get smoother edges, you need a super sharp blade like a new razor blade and a sure, unhesitant, rapid cut. I don't think you needed to cut deeper, although you might want to try it for the benefit of learning yourself.

Nice job! 


inlovewbread's picture

Yay, thanks for the formula! Boy, I turned into a bit of a cry baby yesterday on your blog...the true sentiment of a comment doesn't always transfer well when typed. :-)

--- thanks for the nice comments, inspiration and a formula that tastes wonderful!

Good to know about the fermentation time. I figured it would be okay to pull it out early. I once had a comment from Shiao-Ping about the cold bulk ferment and how it counts toward the final proofing time. That's why I felt it would be good to follow your 45 min final proof instead of going by my eye and waiting longer (would have been overproofed I suppose).

I'm going to head over to your post about the lame you got from sfbi. Looks like you are having good luck with it. My lame is old, so it may be that I just need a sharper blade. 


wally's picture

Those are beautiful loaves, and the nice open crumb is enticing.  Not to mix metaphors (which I'm going to do anyway), baking can be a lot like golf - sometimes everything works perfectly, and then all of a sudden you can't hit a decent shot and it seems like you're doing what you've always done.  But, like swing mechanics, it's easy to overlook a few things we do differently that can have a great impact on the outcome.

Whatever you did with this bake, stick with it!


inlovewbread's picture

Wow, thanks Larry! I need to take notes- see where I'm deviating. Thanks for the reminder.

SydneyGirl's picture

Those loaves look fantastic.

I can't imagine being able to produce something in my crappy gas oven, which seems to have two distinct climactic zones - Alaska at the bottom and the ninth circle of hell at the top. 

What's your oven?

I'm envious.

inlovewbread's picture

LOL! Sorry you can't seem to get even heating in your gas oven! Personally, I cannot cook or bake with a gas range. I'm really happy with my electric range. It's a "Hotpoint" electric range- pretty inexpensive.